Visa and Morgan Stanley settle antitrust dispute

Visa and Morgan Stanley settle antitrust dispute

Visa and Morgan Stanley have settled an antitrust dispute which broke out in 2000 when Visa denied the US bank access to its card network in Europe.

Visa originally denied Morgan Stnaley access to its European network because the US investment bank runs the Discover card network in the US in competition with Visa.

In 2000 Morgan Stanley filed a compliant to the European Commission, which opened an investigation and eventually charged Visa with a breach of competition rules in August 2004. The credit card firm appealed the ruling and has since been waiting for a final decision.

But According to a Financial Times report, which cites executives from both groups, Morgan Stanley has now become a member of the Visa card network and in return has withdrawn its antitrust complaint.

The move by Visa Europe follows last month's news that the unit would split from its parent company Visa International following the group's transition into a publicly-listed company. Visa Europe will remain a membership association, owned and governed by its European member banks, when Visa International goes public.

However the Morgan Stanley settlement does not necessarily halt the EC's probe into potentially uncompetitive behaviour by Visa, although it would be difficult for the regulator to pursue an infringement already addressed by the parties, says the report,

Visa and its rival MasterCard are stilll being investigated by the EC over the setting of interchange fees in European markets.

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